Sermon "Skill in Your Hand & God in Your Heart"

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Your Voice Sounds Better in the Key of Praise

Are you good at doing voices? Imitating people? Sure you are. Try it out.  Pick your favorite singer, now try to sound just like them singing a line or two of your favorite song. Go ahead...I'll wait. Wellll, good job! Didn't know you had it in ya. Ok, now. Thinking of the most annoying voice you've ever heard, and in that voice, sing this little ditty..."why, why, whhhhyyyy, how, how, hooowwww, no, no, nooooo". Oh wow, ok that's enough...that's enough I said.

Ok so, here's the easiest part of this little exercise. Answer this question. Which one do you prefer hearing? Exactly. That's my point. So glad you understand what I'm getting at. God bless you and thanks for reading my post. Until next time.

Oh...say what? You didn't get my point? Ooooh. That's right. You might not have read the same scripture passages I read yesterday. See, I'm doing this chronological, through the bible reading plan using the Bible app. And yesterday, it had me reading  5 chapters in Psalms. All of them saying something about SINGING unto the Lord. Ok, read for yourself.

-Psalm 89:1 "I will sing of the lord’s unfailing love forever! Young and old will hear of your faithfulness."
- Psalm 96:1-2 "Sing a new song to the lord! Let the whole earth sing to the lord! Sing to the lord; praise his name. Each day proclaim the good news that he saves."
-Psalm 100:2 "Worship the lord with gladness. Come before him, singing with joy."
- Psalm 101:1 "I will sing of your love and justice, lord. I will praise you with songs."
- Psalm 105:2 "Sing to him; yes, sing his praises. Tell everyone about his wonderful deeds."

Do you see anything in those verses about whining unto the Lord? Nope! Then why do we do it so much! Goodness gracious, if anyone had anything to whine about, it would have been King David. Goliath wanted to crush him. Saul wanted to spear him. His baby died. Some of his kids went rogue. Even at probably the most triumphant time in his reign as king, when he defeated his foe and brought the Ark of the Covenant home, his wife who should have been cheering him on, nagged about him dancing in the streets. He had plenty of reason to whine. But instead, in all these verses and more, David said that he would sing unto the Lord. So what do you think we ought to do?

Look, its not that we don't ever have reason to whine. I mean even the bible says in Job 14:1 that "Man that is born of a woman is of few days, and full of trouble".  And God certainly encourages us to cast our cares on Him. But please, don't let that be the only thing He hears from us. Because the thing is, God's glory is greater than our grief. The Lord deserves to receive our praise more than we need vent our problems. And if we proclaim to the world we're Christians, yet we're always whining "Woe is meeee!", it's no wonder we have a hard time drawing the people around us to Christ.

Never forget, your voice sounds much better in the key of praise! So go ahead, warm up your vocals (me-me-me-meeeee), get ready to hit that high note, and sing God His glory!

Friday, November 18, 2016

For Jesus to be My Shepherd, I Must Surrender as His Sheep

If you read the Bible, then I bet I can guess your favorite scripture passage...Psalms 23. Am I right? ...Well at least I was close. But you'd agree it is a beloved passage for us who love God's word. I would even dare to guess that behind John 3:16 and the Lord's Prayer found in Matthew 6, the 23rd Psalm is one of the most memorized and quoted set of verses in the whole Bible. I mean just listen to how it starts off (say it with me now)..."The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want". Ahhhh yeah, I like that.

I think we love that not only for HOW God says it (it is one of the most poetic passages in all of the Bible) and for WHAT God is saying. We feel all warm and fuzzy knowing that God is our shepherd. Right? I know I do.

But I think there is the unspoken component of this passage that we mostly ignore. That is, if God is our shepherd, then that makes us His sheep. Let this sink in now...if we want to submit that God is our shepherd, that He protects us, provides for us, chases after us when we go astray, and carries us in His loving arms when we struggle, then we also have to submit to being His sheep.

Do you know what sheep are like? They are peaceful, quiet, and fluffy animals. Hey, I think I can be that. But they're also not very smart, short-sighted, easily frightened, irrational animals who prefer to follow the herd into a dangerous place than to stay alone in a safe place. Is that you?

Well, as much as I hate to admit, it is a lot like me in a lot of ways at a lot of times. So if you and I truly want to embrace Psalms 23, then we have to accept that God is in charge, and we're not. God knows best, and we don't. God can get us home safely, and we can't.

See often our problem is that we like the notion of God being our shepherd, but we have a hard time of letting go of the staff. He and we can't both be the shepherd over our lives at the same time. We have to surrender. And in a world that teaches us to be our own person, and do what we feel, and take control of our own life, it's pretty hard to surrender the staff to Jesus. None of us want to be seen as sheepish. But let me tell you what I've figured out. I'd rather take Jesus' lead and go the right path, than to plot my own course and go down the wrong one. So every day I'm trying my best to take my hand off the Shepherd's staff.

Clock here to read Psalm 23 and see all the benefits that come with surrendering to the Shepherd.


Friday, November 11, 2016

A Veteran's Day Devotional

Here's a story I read that I'd like to share with you. It's a story of two young men, Harold and Mack, who served along side each other in Italy during World War II. One was from Illinois and the other California. Had they met in civilian life, they'd had no common interests and likely would have never been friends. But on the battle field, they became closer than brothers.

Mack started having a bad feeling that he wasn't going to make it out alive. So he gave Harold some mementos and said that if anything ever happened to him, to find his sister and give them to her. He also gave Harold permission to give her a kiss. Harold made a promise to Mack to fulfill his wish. One day later, Mack was killed in heavy artillery fire.

For over 50 years, Harold searched for Mack's sister. Every lead turned up empty, and every woman with the same name turned up to be the wrong woman. He could have given up, and it would have meant nothing to anyone else. But it meant everything to Harold. He had made a promise to his best friend, and it was a promise he intended to keep.

Finally with the help of his daughter, Harold located Mack's sister. They met at the veterans memorial in Marysville, California where Mack's name is inscribed in marble. Harold gave her all the items that Mack wanted his sister to have. Then he leaned over and gave her a kiss.

Would you keep a promise like that? Could you keep a promise like that? Well I know someone who's kept an even greater promise. His name is Jesus. He promised to shed His glory and come down to the earth for us...and He did. He promised to live a righteous life that would be an example to follow...and He did. He promised to choose a few people who would start His church and spread His word so that we can get to know Him..and He did. He promised to take the punishment for our sins and die on the cross for our salvation...and He did. He promised to return to the Father and prepare a place for us in Heaven..and He did. And, He promised to come back one day for us who believe so we can live with Him forever...and....He will!

Proverbs 18:24 talks about a friend who sticks closer than a brother. That's referring to Jesus! John 15:13 says that there is no greater love than for a man to lay down his life for his friends. That's talking about Jesus! 1 Peter 3:9 reminds us that God is not slack when it comes to His promises. What He said He will do, He will do! That especially applies to Jesus! There might be things that you doubt, there might be things that you fear. But let your heart and mind find rest in the fact that God keeps His promises!

To all the veterans who may read this, I say thank you for your service! God's blessings and strength to you today and everyday. No matter what you have been through, I pray you are resting on the promises of God.


Monday, November 7, 2016

My Story is for God's Glory

Here's a verse I want you to read...

"But I will make Pharaoh’s heart stubborn so I can multiply my miraculous signs and wonders in the land of Egypt." Exodus 7:3 NLT

Did you catch that? God said that He was going to purposely make Pharaoh's heart stubborn ("hard" in the KJV) so that He could multiply His signs and wonders. That meant God was going to make it difficult, correction...impossible for them to leave Egypt just so that His works would be even more noticeable. The Lord could have made their exodus easy. In fact, He could have made it so it required no miracles at all. He could have simply touched Pharaoh's heart, and Pharaoh would have said "Ok, you can go", and that would have been that.

But would people have seen God in that? Would God have gotten the glory, or would the Israelites have said "I tell ya, that Pharaoh sure is a nice guy", or "That Moses sure is an awesome deliverer". Would we be reading about it and commenting on it here on social media thousands of years later? ....Probably not. So the Lord hardened Pharaoh's heart to set a dark stage from which His light could shine even brighter.

I don't know about you, but that gives more purpose to my pain. That lets me know that even my hard times can be a part of God's plan. And His plan just might be that through my difficult situations, correction...impossible situations, I will be delivered, and He will be revealed.  Through Christ I will be stronger, and through me Christ will be known.

So you and I both have to ask ourselves this question...Am I ok with that? As Oswald Chambers put it, am I willing to be broken bread and poured out wine? Make no mistake about it, our lives are like candles burning down shorter every day. Some burning out faster than others. What we have to decide is while it burns, will I let my light shine on Jesus.

I don't know about you, but I have decided that my story will be for His glory!

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Heaven is a Long Way From Hell

Take a moment to read this story from the Bible....

Luke 16:19-31(NLT) - The Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus

Jesus said, “There was a certain rich man who was splendidly clothed in purple and fine linen and who lived each day in luxury. At his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus who was covered with sores.  As Lazarus lay there longing for scraps from the rich man’s table, the dogs would come and lick his open sores. “Finally, the poor man died and was carried by the angels to be with Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried, and his soul went to the place of the dead. There, in torment, he saw Abraham in the far distance with Lazarus at his side. “The rich man shouted, ‘Father Abraham, have some pity! Send Lazarus over here to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue. I am in anguish in these flames.’ “But Abraham said to him, ‘Son, remember that during your lifetime you had everything you wanted, and Lazarus had nothing. So now he is here being comforted, and you are in anguish. And besides, there is a great chasm separating us. No one can cross over to you from here, and no one can cross over to us from there.’  “Then the rich man said, ‘Please, Father Abraham, at least send him to my father’s home. For I have five brothers, and I want him to warn them so they don’t end up in this place of torment.’  “But Abraham said, ‘Moses and the prophets have warned them. Your brothers can read what they wrote.’ “The rich man replied, ‘No, Father Abraham! But if someone is sent to them from the dead, then they will repent of their sins and turn to God.’ “But Abraham said, ‘If they won’t listen to Moses and the prophets, they won’t be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead.’”

There is a lot we can learn from that story. Often we tend to focus on the fact that one man was rich and the other man poor, and then try to figure out what that means for us and the material wealth we have or desire to accumulate. I personally don't think that's the main point of the story. I think Jesus shared that with His followers then and with us now to point out how far Heaven is from hell.

I hope you do accept that both are real places, and every person ever born will eventually see one of the two...but not both. And not only are they two distinct places, but they are separated with a great divide in between. They're not like New York and New Jersey with nothing but a bridge separating the two. No they are as far apart as the East is from the West. Abraham told the rich man that there is a great chasm or divide between the two and no one can cross over from one to the other.  And that fact probably has more meaning for most people when we die, but I want you to know that it has meaning for us now while we still live.

My point...ok I'm getting to it, don't rush point is this. Too many people want to be on their way to Heaven but live everyday like hell. (Was that inappropriate? I hope not). So many people want to have a sense of security in calling themselves a Christian and saying they believe in God yet live the majority of their lives pointed away from Him. Please hear me, we need to know that Heaven and hell are eternities apart and we can't be going in the direction of both of them at the same time. Now if you get to an intersection and you find a way to turn left and right at the same time, then I'll come back and admit I'm wrong. Until then, let all of us who plan to be in Heaven one day strive every day to live like we're already there.